83

Honey Harvesting Success Story – Sangeeta Baris

Sangeeta Baris, 29, lives in Mauchipada, Dhule and was trained on the 11th & 12th of Deccember, 2014 as part of a joint NABARD – Under The Mango Tree undertaking.

Sangeeta Tai was  fascinated with the ideas of bees staying in box and initially thought that it was an impossible task. However, the practical training made her believe that it is indeed possible. Initially she struggled a little to locate a colony in the wild which she could transfer to her beebox, but this ended soon.

 

She filled her box with the help of three fellow villagers (two women and  a man) who also were trained in the same batch as her,  and there has been no looking back for her.

This week, it has been two months since she filled up her box, and hence the honey in her box was ready for harvesting.

 

 

Sangeeta extracted 500gm of honey on 15th april, 2015, and has planned a second extraction soon. She now feels more motivated to continue bee keeping in order to receive the benefits in agriculture and honey which we have been promoting.

 

 

 

41

Master Trainer Success Story – Bharatbhai

Bharatbhai Bhoya, 25 is UTMTs youngest Master Trainer from Tutarkhed village in Gujarat. Bharatbhai initially cultivated only rain-fed crops such as Rice, Ragi, and Black Gram.

After being trained by Under The Mango Tree on beekeeping, Bharatbhai understood the role bees played as pollinators and their impact on increasing farm yields. He then adopted a bee-friendly cropping pattern and today also takes a second crop, that includes Sunn Hemp, Onion, Niger and Gram.

As a result of bee pollination, yield of these crops have increased by 80% earning him an additional income of Rs 7700/- last year. With regard to income from honey, he says “In the monsoon when we have no income source, we have honey to sell”. Last year, he earned Rs. 2300/- through honey sales with the help of UTMT.

As a result of honey and increased farm yields, Bharatbhai has now been able to add Rs 10,000 to the Rs 25,000 he earned annually before beekeeping.

His income thus increasing by 40% in just one year!

78

The inspiring story of OmnaTai

Omna Suresh Mauchi

Mauchipada village, Sakhri block, Dhule district, Maharashtra 

Omnatai, 38, from Mauchipada village in Dhule, is another rising star from the new batch of trainees in UTMT’s NABARD-supported beekeeping project. She was inducted in January 2015 as a Master Trainer, which entitles her to specialized training workshops held by UTMT for promising Master Trainers.

 

Trained in January 2014, Omnatai had never heard of beekeeping in boxes before UTMT came to her village. However, she was quite familiar with bees, having practiced honey hunting of the smaller, wild Apis florea bee with her family from a young age. It is this inherent fearlessness that served her well when learning the process of transferring the indigenous Apis cerana indica bees that UTMT works with, from nature into a bee box. Soon after the first demonstration by UTMT’s technical staff, she independently began scouting for bees and successfully transferring them into bee boxes, a great achievement as both are technical skills that usually a new trainee several weeks to learn. UTMT Program Associate Ms. Dhanshree Chavan vouches for her abilities, “She does colony transfers with great precision”.

 

To date, Omnatai has conducted 4 colony transfers. She often shares notes with Vimaltai, a fellow trainee and friend equally skilled at colony transfers. Together they make a formidable pair whom villagers refer whenever a new colony of bees is found.

Multitasking is necessary at such times. “My best experience of beekeeping is filling bees into bee boxes. If someone finds bees, I leave everything at home, even if I haven’t cooked, and rush there. My husband and children do not mind… they prepare tea, and wait for me to return and resume cooking. Sometimes, I wake up at 4 am, to cook and keep things at home ready, before leaving. It is not too tough to manage housework, farm work and beekeeping.”

Omnatai does not feel the activity is difficult, however she feels the need to understand in more detail the subsequent steps in the beekeeping process. She eagerly awaits the bees’ growth season when she will learn the technique of multiplying the bees to fill more bee boxes. This way, the other less confident members of her Self Help Group – Priti Mahila Bachat Gat – can have their bee boxes filled with bees quickly.

 

Omnatai perceives the increased yields of chillies, onion, chana, mango and amla on her humble 1.5 acre farm, to be the biggest benefit she will accrue from beekeeping. With the supplementary income obtained from these and the sale of honey, she intends spending for her children’s routine needs and for purchasing vegetables. 2 bee boxes presently stand in the farm.

She has had a fair share of detractors, “A few people say ‘Bees sting, why do you want to do this?.’ I tell them, ‘I am interested, that’s why.’”

Omnatai hopes to expand her number of bee boxes soon, even willing to invest personal funds if needed. She is also keen to help her group members fill their boxes and start practicing beekeeping soon.

 

70

Success Stories – NABARD supported Beekeeping Training

Sumitraben Shubhanbhai  Bhoya, 43, is the latest addition to the cadre of woman Master Trainers in UTMT. Master Trainers are farmers who demonstrate special interest in beekeeping from among the group trained, and are imparted advanced skills so that they are equipped to care for all the village bee boxes.

Educated until Class VIII, Sumitraben’s life revolved around farm work, raising her 2 children and often migrating for labour work. She expected to continue the routine she was used to. However, things changed when she heard of a NABARD supported beekeeping training being conducted by UTMT in her village of Nadagkhadi. Beekeeping sounded very new and different, so she decided it was worth a try and attended the training in April 2014. Sumitraben liked what she learned, and became the first from her village to start practicing beekeeping.

The proud owner of 4 bee boxes, she says the bees are part of her family now. She worries about them like she does her own children. During a follow up visit by UTMT staff in February 2015, she spoke of her distress following the absconding of one bee box, “Someone from the village opened my box and now all the bees have absconded. I feel like as if a family member has left home.”

Sumitraben tries to encourage other women to find bee colonies, so their bee boxes get filled too. She takes a few women to her bee box when maintaining it, so that they are able to learn by observation.

Sumitraben has experienced first-hand the benefits that keeping bees can bring. On her 5 acres of land, she cultivates nagli, rice, vari, khurasani, udad, sunhemp, groundnut, tuvar, lady finger, moong, onion & water melon during different seasons. She says she has seen a 30-40% increase in the yields of sunhemp and tuvar.Sumitraben saw honey in her beebox for the first time in May 2014, when 950 gms honey was extracted. She sold it for Rs. 220.

Being from a small village Sumitraben is grateful to have had the opportunity to learna new livelihood generating activity. She feels her confidence and leadership qualities have improved. She would like to eventually work with UTMT in expanding bee keeping in her village.

 

 

58

Master Trainer Success Story

Master Trainer Vimal Dilip Vadvi
Mauchipada village, Sakhri block, Dhule district, Maharashtra

Vimaltai’s story is an exceptional one. She is probably one of UTMT’s first ever woman beekeepers to transfer bees single-handedly from the wild into beeboxes. It is this unique ability that catapulted her into the league of Junior Master Trainers just 2 months after undergoing training under the NABARD supported beekeeping programme in February 2015. The programme, started in December 2013, is focused on improving the livelihoods of 1,000 women from WSHGs (Women Self Help Groups) in Dhule and Dang.

 

Vimaltai’s self-confidence has origins in her childhood. She belongs to a family of traditional honey hunters, and as a child often accompanied her parents on trips to harvest wild honey from forest beehives. Having been exposed to bees from a very young age, she has no fear of them, unlike most of her fellow village women. She, alongwith 2 other women trainees, began catching bees and filling them in beeboxes independently, after watching UTMT staff demonstrate the process just twice. Even UTMT’s Technical Assistant Chabildas Jadhav, an old hand at beekeeping, expressed amazement on hearing about their actions. “In all my years of teaching both men and women farmers, I have never come across any one who has been able to successfully start after only two demonstrations.”

 

She has performed 4 Natural Colony Transfers(NCTs) single handedly while 7 more were done alongwith 3 fellow trainees. She tries to keep fellow trainees involved by encouraging them to accompany her on NCTs, as some are reluctant to venture out on their own while others have yet to overcome their fear. Vimaltai’s love for bees becomes apparent as soon as she starts speaking. “The past one week has been all about bees, many colonies were found nearby. People in the village now know that I and 3 other women are good at filling bees in boxes. When they spot a colony, they promptly inform us. That’s when I gather the other women and go to conduct the NCT”. She says she has been so busy that her family often pulls her leg, ”Don’t you have any other work to do, other than going after bees?”. UTMT staff Dhanshree vouches for her proactive attitude, “She is great at mobilizing people fast, and makes sure she does not lose the chance to fill a box as soon as a colony is found.”

 

During one NCT,Vimaltai was stung multiple times which led to a high fever that did not subside for 2 days. She was compelled to travel to Pimpalner town 45 minutes away to take an injection, which helped bring the fever under control. Far from feeling intimidated, she continues to head off on NCTs when called upon, and proudly recounts the fever episode. It takes her between 1 to 2 hours to conduct an NCT. Thereafter, maintaining the beebox takes 15 minutes each week, and is usually done in a group of 3-4 people so that all can see and learn while recalling maintenance instructions of the UTMT staff. “After checking a beebox, I phone Dhanshree to update her of our findings and also to understand why the bees are behaving in certain way. Once, we saw many bees clustered on the stand below. Witnessing the phenomenon for the first time, we were concerned this could be a sign of absconding, hence quickly phoned Dhanshree who explained that this is normal bee behavior when the temperature inside the box gets too hot. She guided us in placing a wet cloth over the box for cooling effect.”Vimaltai feels there is a lot more to learn in beekeeping, and wants to understand bee behavior in different seasons and situations, something that she will learn in due course during the special Master Trainer trainings held quarterly by UTMT.

Vimaltai doesn’t feel like her new livelihood interferes in her daily routine. She adjusts her schedule as needed and manages the farm and household chores. Her husband is supportive, and sometimes even joins her on NCTs as he is keen to learn the skill. Vimaltai had 2 beeboxes of her own, 1 of which absconded. Deeply distressed, she could not sleep the following night. The remaining box is kept in her father’s Jamphal (Guava) orchard next to her home, as her family members live nearby and can keep a watchful eye. The bees in this box were divided during the division season, by a technical process demonstrated by Mr. Jadhav. This was the first time she saw and learned how a new colony can be created by an alternative method, apart from familiar NCTs.

 

At the same demo, she was thrilled to see honey in the honeycomb but it was too small a quantity to be extracted at the time. She eagerly awaits the day she will be able to do so. Vimaltai aims to fill the first batch of 50 beeboxes belonging to her village as soon as possible. Once this is completed, she is all set to take on the next 50. That way, each farmer will have 2 buzzing beeboxes. Simultaneously, furthering her knowledge on new aspects of beekeeping is on the cards. Vimaltai embodies the qualities we at UTMT hope every woman beekeeper will develop fearlessness, confidence, and a proactive approach.

73

ShardaTai – An Inspiration For Many Female Farmers

Sharda Pimpalse, 42 years of age hails from Sukhapur village in Dhule district. She is one of our most passionate new women beekeepers. Trained in February 2014 as part of the UTMT-NABARD project to teach the women self help groups beekeeping, she took an active interest in learning the skill and encouraging her fellow trainees from the outset. Today, she is the proud owner of 2 buzzing bee boxes kept on her 2.5 acre farm.

 

Here’s how it all began

ShardaTai had never heard of bees being kept in boxes before UTMT arrived. Like many trainees, she too feared the bees. After attending UTMT’s basic 2-day theory-cum-practical training in the village, her initial skepticism vanished. She realized it could bring great benefits in terms of both agricultural yields and honey, in the long run.

 

It took ShardaTai months to master the first step, that is, the art of transferring bees from the environment into a bee box. She accompanied UTMT’s Technical Assistant on four colony transfers, observing the procedure carefully each time, occasionally lending a hand before finally attempting it herself. The experience made her more confident of independently handling the bees. The next step of the learning curve was the routine bee box checking and maintenance, which she then learned much faster. In fact, ShardaTai began helping her fellow trainees maintain their bee boxes as well when required.

 

ShardaTai’s dedication towards beekeeping can be better understood through the following incident

The CEO of the Dhule Zilla Parishad, having heard of the project, recently visited Sukhapur with his family and requested a bee box demo. ShardaTai declined to open her bee box, explaining that it had just been checked 2 days prior, and a second check in less than a week would disturb the bee colony’s health.

Recognizing her potential, we selected her to be a junior Master Trainer, a position that not only gives her access to learning advanced techniques during special quarterly workshops but also assists her with maintaining all the 14 bee boxes in the village. This is one more feather added to ShardaTai’s entrepreneurial cap.

ShardaTai is the President of her 13 year old SHG (Preeti Mahila Bachat Gat), she is involved with a livelihood’s NGO in Mahim, she plays a very active role in her village development, and also takes orders for tailoring from home. Her active involvement in community development makes her the first point of contact for anyone visiting Sukhapur. What is truly inspirational is that ShardaTai handles all this without having had a formal education, and in addition to managing farming and household chores!

 

In her typical humble demeanor, she credits her supportive family for her multitasking abilities. “My husband and 3 sons are immensely supportive, and that’s why I have been able to do so much in life. My husband takes over cooking meals, if I have to go out for any work. He has been asking me to teach him beekeeping, so that he can take over when I am occupied with other work. When the boys are at home, they accompany me to the neighboring villages on beekeeping meetings. They’ve begun to take an interest too. They assist other trainees in constructing stands and shades for bee boxes.”

ShardaTai enjoys interacting with new people, something she has had the opportunity to do often during exposure visits to our old project areas in Gujarat, and also when new trainees visit her bee box. “Meeting old and new beekeepers help us exchange thoughts and bond over shared interests. It’s also the time I can convince skeptics about the merits of beekeeping. A group of newly trained women from the nearby village Dhamander visited Sukhapur for an exposure visit in October 2014. A few were extremely doubtful if beekeeping can really bring the benefits spoken about. I told them, ‘One needs to look ahead in life and not backwards. The men try to discourage us from doing new things, don’t let that happen. What will you lose by giving it a try? UTMT staff travel long distances to teach us, talk to us, senior Government officials have given this activity a lot of attention –so certainly beekeeping must have benefits.’”

 

Going forward, ShardaTai is keen to expand her bee box numbers. She is willing to pool in personal funds if needed. “In Mauchipada village half an hour away, they are locating bee colonies more often than us here. I have requested a few friends there to search bees in the forest and reserve them for us. I will pay them, and for box transportation too”.

ShardaTai is an example of the hope UTMT has for women in the marginalized communities we work with, that they may develop an empowering skill to improve their livelihoods.

72

UTMT’s Master Trainers Program – A smashing success!

Twice a year, Under The Mango Tree takes the initiative of making life better for the less privileged – for the farmers as well as the bees! We aim at teaching the farmers the art of “beekeeping” to add to their source of income.

 

This February saw the first of the two lined up training programs for this year. It was a two day training program that aimed at generating people’s resources locally, so as to accelerate our Bees for Poverty Reduction Initiative.

The response was overwhelming. 9 women and 3 men were selected as Master Trainers (MT) across three villages – Sukapur, Kevlipada and Mauchipada.

 

The program was a success as the participants felt privileged and enlightened by the acquired knowledge. The misconception of ‘bees are such a nuisance’ was completely washed out of their minds. In fact, the MT’s now respect the bees as they have shown them a new source of earning income.

These MT’s are further going to provide their services in 4 Villages that include their own three as well as Chavlipada. All in all, they will be assisting 148 farmers in the area for beekeeping.

 

It was a pleasant sight to see so many women come forward for their development. It only humbled us to learn that this training has also worked in the direction of women empowerment. The MT’s are confident and want to take up the challenge of training the other farmers and successfully carry out their own bee keeping activities.

All of these MT’s are Below the Poverty Line farmers who have very limited and restricted income means. This training has made them feel empowered and positive by opening new avenues of income generation.

We are proud to have made a difference in the lives of these 12 MT’s and the several others who will be benefiting from the training provided by these MT’s in the days to come.

 

UTMT has taken a step closer in the direction of enhancing the social and economic functioning of these marginalized farmers.